Monday, July 31, 2006

Fred's Post

The first guest post of the week is from Fred .

People often ask me why I still listen to Heavy Metal music. Most people who make these sort of comments equate metal with many of the bad hair bands of the 80s and wouldn’t know real metal if they were hit on the head with one of Udo’s wrecking balls.

Here is the secret of why I love metal; plain and simple, it’s fun.

Metal is all things.

It can be theatrical (Kiss, King Diamond, Alice Cooper, Ayreon).
It can be depressing (Candlemass, Anathema, My Dying Bride).
It can be bludgeoning (Napalm Death, Slayer, Morbid Angel, Death).
It can be cerebral (Spiral Architect, Rush, Ulver).
Or it can just plain rock (Motorhead, Armored Saint, AC/DC).

That’s what is great about metal, it’s not just one thing. Metal crosses over into many genres and has so many subgenres that I don’t have time to list half of them. Whatever mood you may be in, there is a metal band for you.

I have a good friend who is into progressive and art rock from the 70s. He made a comment concerning the lack of guitar heroes and progressive music in today’s music scene. My reply was that there are tons of bands and fantastic musicians around today, but most of them are in the metal underground. In the 70s and 80s you could hear progressive/heavy music that on radio but now, if you want to hear music comparable to bands like Rush or Yes or King Crimson, you have to dig around in the world of metal. Some heavy and technical bands manage to break through, like Tool and The Mars Volta, but those bands are the minority.

Another thing that I love about metal is that it’s challenging. There are so many metal albums that require several listens before you can even break the surface of what the musicians are playing. Sure, bands like Motorhead (god love them) release stuff that is instantly engaging but bands like Iron Maiden, Opeth and Iced Earth continue to release longer and denser albums, that only reveal themselves after repeated listens.

So, why do I love metal? Because I would be (musically) bored to tears without it.

Up The Irons!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What's coming up?

My vacation is coming up this week. I am off from work all week and we are going to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for three days. I am not sure what I doing for the rest of the week although I really to clean some things around the house. I have some great guest bloggers lined up to do the posts from Monday through Wednesday. I hope you enjoy them and I will be back to posting Thursday. Once I am back I will try to put up my 20 year old album review at the end of this week. This month it's Motorhead's Orgasmatron.

***Here is a question for you. If you had to have a framed print of any album cover on your living room wall then what it be? Let's say you had to keep it there for at least a year.

Considering I have a family and I don't want to scare the little ones, that would eliminate a lot of scary stuff. I am having problems choosing just one so I'll say it's a toss up between AC/DC's Let there be rock and Iron Maiden's Powerslave.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The radio

I don't listen to the radio much anymore, actually I haven't listened to it for years. Back in the mid-80's I listened to it quite a bit. My favorite channel was 98Rock out of Baltimore. They played a lot of popular pop stuff like U2 and Prince, but they played some metal as well. I remember listening a weekly local show called Friday night metal where they played metal songs for an hour. They played popular stuff like Judas Priest and Dio, but lesser known stuff like Raven, Venom and Y and T as well. This was where I first heard Motorhead and Metallica. Then on Saturday they the nationally syndicated show the Metalshop. This show had real feature with interviews and a lot new metal songs. It was here that I first heard Megadeth and Metal Church. I remember going to church camp in 1985 and they didn't allow radios, but our counselor brought his anyhow. We stayed up late one night and we crowded around this little radio because 98Rock was playing the new Crue "Theater of Pain" in it's entirety. Not that great an album, but it was still exciting for someone like me that didn't have the money to buy everything new to have a chance to hear the new album. The radio station also had a Sunday feature called six albums at six which is where they played six whole albums at 6:00 of course.This was where I first heard Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers and Dio's Sacred Heart. I love being able to get CD's now , but back between 83-86 the radio helped bring me music that I couldn't afford to buy. I was introduced to a lot of bands that I wouldn't have heard otherwise so I appreciate the radio for that.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Upcoming changes

Starting around the beginning of September I will probably be posting a little less. Please don't run away because by little less I mean that I will likely be posting every other day instead of daily. Except during theme weeks when I will probably post 5-6 times during the week. I have been trying to post daily since the beginning of the year. It's just getting hard to find time to keep up that pace and sometimes I post just to put something up and I should really take more time. However I am not slacking off because I plan on trying to put more effort into what I do write. Also I am soon going to start work soon on my top ten metal albums of 1986. I will explain more about that in August. I am already looking forward to 2007 and I will probably do away with some features like Battle of the bands and From the pages of Hit Parader and replace them with new features for the new year. Suggestions are always welcome.

The re-naming game

Have you ever had an album where you thought that the album title didn't quite fit the album? Well, here is your chance to set things straight or at least write it down here. So pick an album whose title you don't agree with and give it a name that you think is more appropriate.

Megadeth-So far, so good, so what?
It's just too much of a mouthful. I like title tracks so I like "Set the world afire" as the album title. Although this album certainly didn't set the music world afire.

AC/DC-Blow up your video
The band's worst album with their worst title. I think "Meanstreak" would be a better title although "Brownstreak" is more representative of what I think of this album.

Okay, so are there any good albums where a better album title could be picked?

Ratt-Dancing Undercover
One of my favorite Ratt albums, and although they were never the heaviest band in the world the title sounds a little too much like a pop album for me. None of the song titles sound like good album titles so I like something like "Into the city". I think it follows as a next step to"Out of the cellar" and "Invasion of your privacy". I am probably the only person that thinks that though.

Not their finest moment, but a decent album. I like "Can't die tonight" better than "Helldorado". I think the album title they chose sounds like a joke like a Raging Slab album title or something.

Scorpions-Face the heat
Not a horrible album title, but maybe a bit generic. I like "Under the same sun" as a title. It sounds a little more direct and unique to me.

Okay, now is there an album title you would change and what would you change it to?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Music Blogs

I am pleased that there seems to be a number of new music blogs popping up. Some are all metal and some are other kinds of music. I think music blogs and the people that write them are a little different than other bloggers in some ways. By writing about just one thing you probably limit yourself as to the number of people who may visit your blog. However if people are into it then they will find you and it also helps to seek out new music blogs as well. I read a lot of different blogs regularly, but being a music blogger means I can relate a little better to these types of blogs. I love music blogs even if I am not familar with all of the music that is being discussed. I love them because they are written by fans and fans don't have supervisors or editors or outside pressures so they are honest. Even if I don't always agree with what is being said, I respect it and I love to see different opinions. I remember reading Hit Parader and Metal Edge in the 80's and they were overall fluff. Magazines like Metal, Metal Mania and Rip (for a while) were a little more down to earth and on target. Still these guys were writing for an audience and music bloggers are writing because they like music and they want to talk about it. Don't get me wrong, I read metal sites and magazines and I respect a lot of those writers too, but I am very grateful to have both sides of the coin. So support your music blogs, leave comments, add their links and spread the word. I also said the word love more in this one entry than I have in the entire last year I have been blogging so maybe I should be smacked for that.

New blog and contest

Theo over at metal-mixtape asked me to mention a contest he is having over there. Here is what he had to say:

"I'm running a contest where I've posted a mystery picture of an '8os rocker and the first person to write in identifying that person gets an autographed copy of Judas Priest's latest DVD."

So hop over there and have a look.

From the pages of Hit Parader

This month I was looking at the cover story of the October, 1985 issue of Hit Parader. The article is called "the Kings of shock rock" and it talks about then current bands like WASP, Twisted Sister and Motley Crue as well as earlier bands like Kiss and of course Alice Cooper. Although I am not sure what shock refers to in this article because the Crue and Twisted Sister never really got into stage theatrics like WASP and Alice Cooper. Even stage theatrics for Kiss was mainly just Gene with his fire breathing and blood spitting. Alice Cooper got away from stage theatrics in the early 80's when he was trying different styles of music, but he inevitably returned to them in the mid-80's and fans loved it. WASP did blood, skulls, torture racks and throwing out raw meat between say 82-85. Eventually they tried to get away from the theatrics, but this was a hard image for to shake off and I think some people had trouble taking the band seriously. Even though by 89 they were trying to take their own music more serious. Twisted Sister of course tanked it big time in the fall of 1985 when Come out and play bombed and their big headlining tour was cancelled after just a few weeks. They had a big city themed stage set for this tour, but very few people saw it due to the lack of ticket sales. Motley Crue were never that attached to their early image because they were able to shake it when Theater of pain hit and the band took on a more sparkly glam image. Kiss were huge in the 70' s and they had the make-up costumes and Gene's stage antics listed above. Their popularity was sinking by the early 80's so they had a big idea and they took off the make-up. That's right, the gimmick of "no gimmick" and it worked as Kiss re-invented themselves to some extent and they squeezed right in with the 80's metal scene. Then of course in the mid-90's they jumped back into the make-up bag and covered their faces again and people rushed to see them play live. So perhaps it depends on the individual as to whether or not gimmicks that shock fans will work.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Current playlist

Currently I am listening to:

Axtion-Look out for the night
Def Leppard-High and dry
Kidd Blue-Big Trouble
Sweet Cheater-Eatin' ain't cheatin'
Artillery-Terror Squad
Iron Maiden-The number of the beast
Miss Crazy
Fu Manchu-Start the machine

What are you listening to?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Def Leppard-High and dry, 1981

Sometimes it doesn't take long for your opinion of a band to take. My opinion of Def Leppard changed in just over an hour as that is the running time of their 1987 release "Hysteria". I heard "Hysteria" once and that was enough to make think they had lost the special sound that was present in the previous three releases. I didn't completely write them off, but they never have redeemed themselves after that either. However I think that it's quite possible that over the years I have forgotten just how good those early albums were. I was listening to "High and dry" not long ago and it didn't take long for it to sink in that this band really was something special at one time. The first album was good and the next two were great. These guys were once a very good hard rock act, probably one of the best commercial hard rock bands going between 1980 and 1983. Commercial can also be read as accessible which is not a sin if it is done right and I think this band did it right during their first three albums. I often go back and forth between this album and Pyromania as to which is their best. Ultimately I might give "Pyromania" the slight edge, but this album showed a lot of maturity over the debut "On through the night". High and dry might even be their most rock album as it's far more raw than anything else they did. Some people forget that they came out of the legendary New Wave of British Heavy metal(NWOBHM) scene that emerged around 79-80 and stayed fairly strong until say 83-84. This scene also included Iron Maiden, Saxon, Venom, Raven and piles of others. The majority of the bands from that scene were heavier than Def Leppard yet Leppard and Maiden would be the only bands from the scene to really achieve mega success. I remember listening to "High and dry" on my walkman while I was laying on my bed as a freshman in high school and just thinking how great of an album was. I also remember seeing a local band called Spellbound cover "Let it go" from this album and they butchered it. I thought that band should have turned in their equipment for wronging such a great song. After 25 years this album is still solid. It's not perfect because very few albums are, but I can't come up with any major gripes right now. Favorite tracks are Let it go, Switch 625, You got me runnin', On through the night and Mirror, Mirror (Look into my eyes).

Monday, July 24, 2006

Axtion-Look out for the night, 1985

Sometimes you find a gem that for one reason or another went overlooked. This album does not totally fall into that category yet there is something here that makes this album worthwhile. I never heard of Pittsburgh's Axtion until just a few years ago when I saw this album pop up on ebay from time to time. It usually went for more than I was willing to pay for a band that I had never heard. Now it's just been put on CD for the first time so I get to hear what this band was like. Describing them is a bit tough because they don't exactly have one cohesive sound. There is a song that sounds like Journey without the keyboards, but then again there is another that sounds a little like early 80's Judas Priest. Overall the heaviness level is somewhere in the middle of those two. At times maybe a bit like Rough Cutt and a little like Malice yet with far more hooks. I have listened to it maybe six times so far and I like more with each listen. Guitarist Darren Lazzeri shreds on his solos with ease and the music is overall pretty solid. Now the down side and the reality check. I believe I heard that these guys relocated to LA, but never really got anywhere. The main problem I see with them is vocalist Randy Amos. He is okay on the slower songs, but his lack of range is all too clear on the mid tempo songs. What's worse is he tries to make up for his lack of range by stretching lines out and this just makes him sound like an amateur. The other problem isn't as bad and it's just that the album was made in 1985 yet almost half songs have more of an early 80's sound. Not that matters much to me, but that may have been something that record labels noticed. It's not a great overlooked gem, but it's a good solid, catchy metal album and the band had some real potential. Favorite tracks include the title track, Road runnin', Spread the Axtion and Fury of the Tempest.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


Here are some simple questions for you.

What kind of keychains are on your keys?

What's on your mousepad?

Do you have anything hanging on your rearview mirror?

What was the last music related dvd that you watched?(This can be a concert dvd or a music related movie)

***For the last two questions there is a $25 limit on what you can buy***

You can have buy one cd of your choice that was released between 2000 and now, what is it?

You can buy one cd that was released any year prior to 2000, what is it?

Battle of the bands

It's easy and it's relatively painless, it's battle of the bands. I list two bands and you choose the one you prefer. This time it's:

Dio vs. Ozzy Osbourne

***Remember we are comparing the bands here and not just the singers and not any other bands they have been in. So you are only taking into account albums that say Dio on the cover against albums that say Ozzy Osbourne on them.

So who do you choose and why?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What's coming up?

Well, I hope you enjoyed live album week. Now it's back to normal to some extent. This week I hope to have the following out-

Reviews for:
Axtion-Look out for the night
Def Leppard-High and dry

-Battle of the bands
-It came from Hit Parader (or maybe Circus this time around)
-Heavy Metal Memory
-The re-name game

Here's a question for you. Have you ever bought an album and not been too crazy about. Then maybe a few listens later it hits you and then you realize how good it is. For some reason it didn't hit you at first. Has this ever happened to you? If so then what album or albums was it?

For me I would say that these albums fit in that category.

WASP-The last command
At first I thought it was toned down too much from the debut. Then about three years later it hit me how much better the writing was than on the debut.

Van Halen-Women and children first
I liked it, but it always seemed to contain too many fragments and odd bits to really be great. Took me about eight years before it hit me as to how energetic the album was and the songs actually fit together pretty well.

Cinderella-Long cold winter
I dismissed it when I first came out then about four years later a friend was playing it and it sunk in. It was more about blues rock and classic rock influences and it sure was tight.

Dio-Dream evil
The departure of Vivian Campbell and the two not so great singles made my initial opinion of this album not too high. Years later I came to realize that the album was actually the shot in the arm that Dio needed. Craig Goldie's playing is sharp and vibrant. Probably my third favorite Dio album.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Tentative theme week schedule

As Live album week draws to a close. I just wanted to jot down what my theme week schedule for the next few months might be.

August-1980's week
September-Rock movies week
October-Black Sabbath week
November-Oh, Canada week

I won't be doing a theme week in December because I actually will spend the first ten days of the month doing my countdown of the top ten metal albums of 1986. After that I don't know. I have been thinking as to whether or not I will continue blogging after this year, but I am not sure about that right now. I like to lay a schedule down like this as it keeps me on track to some extent. Hope you enjoy the theme weeks.

Rush-Exit stage left, 1981

This was the band's second live album as the first was "All the world's a stage" (1976). This album contains Rush material from "Farewell to kings"(1977) through "Moving Pictures" (1981). Rush have gone through many different styles in their sound over the course of their long career. They went through a lot of style changes between 77-81, but I think it was some of their best material. I love their earlier stuff too because it's got an edge, but after "2112" they became a bit more refined, but I think they branched out a bit and most certainly grew as songwriters. So this live album captured the band during their 1981 tour and they were probably at their commercial peak during this time. These guys are by and large respected as musicians and there is good reason for that. I have unfortunately never seen them live, but they tend to have the reputation of being an incredible live band. I think this album serves in giving the listener a taste of what they do live, but I would imagination it's only taste. I think some bands have to do work to make their live sound better, but my bet is that Rush are overwhelming and live although I am not sure that they can totally be captured on a live album. Overall I think this is a solid album and one of the few live albums that I listen to fairly often. My favorite tracks are Spirit of radio, Red Barchetta, the Trees, Tom Sawyer and Xanadu.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Who should have made a live album?

So is there anyone you wish would have made a live album, but didn't? Or is there anyone currently around that you wish would make a live album?

-I wish Van Halen had done a live album with David Lee Roth.

-I wish there was a better live AC/DC with Bon Scott other than "If you want blood, you got it".

-I wish that there was a live Armored Saint album from say 1985 or 1987, but I may be the only person interested in that.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Iron Maiden-Live after death, 1985

To me this is the live album by which all other live metal albums should be judged. And believe me, it will not be easy to measure up to this big monster of an album either. I remember going to the record store to buy this in late fall of 1985. You wouldn't think a live album by a band who didn't get played on the radio would be a big deal, but Maiden were at their peak here in the states and it was most certainly a huge deal. The record store had a six foot tall Eddie stand-up and posters and flats advertising the album all over the place. I remember that WASP, Dokken and Twisted Sister all released albums around this same time, but Live after death was the one everyone wanted. I got my copy on cassette and stuck into my cheap little boombox when I got home and I was floored. To me it was like the power of Maiden only more so and it was everything I would want from a live show. They had done some tremendous albums at this point in their career, but pulling it off live and making it sound even better at times was huge task. The fourteen minute "Rime of the ancient mariner" is not a song most metal bands would have done in the first and it might be hard to pull of live. Yet on this album, the band not only pulls it off, but the song is perhaps the biggest highlight of the set. Iron Maiden are no stranger to live album as their first live album an ep entitled "Maiden Japan" came out after just their second album. Over the last 15 years it feels like they have done as many live albums as they have studio release. Yet "Live after death" is a great example of what can be done on a live album. They manage to maintain a high energy level throughout the entire album. My only complaint is Bruce Dickinson seems to have some trouble doing two Paul Dianno songs and those are Running Free and Iron Maiden. They are just better with Dianno singing them. My favorite songs are Rime of the ancient mariner, The Number of the beast, Aces high and the Trooper.

The worst live albums

At the beginning of Live album week I asked what you favorite live album was. Now I was wondering what are some the worst live albums you have heard?

I will say......

Guns -n- Roses-Live Era
It's recorded over a long period of time so you would think they would have chosen some good versions. Yet many of the songs sound worse or less exciting than the studio versions. I had trouble making it through the whole thing.

Van Halen-Right here, right now
The Live without a net video from 86 was good. When I saw them in 88 they were good. So why then does their double live disc from 91 sound like a bunch of tired old men going through the motions?

Iron Maiden-A real live one
Maiden set a high standard with Live after death. So they should have known better then to try to pass off a live album with poor sound quality and some average performances. The follow-up "A real dead one" was better.

So what are your picks for worst live albums?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Ted Nugent-Full bluntal Nugity, 2001

This was recorded live on December 31st, 2000 at the annual Whiplash Bash at the Palace at Auburn Hills in Detroit, Michigan. The Nuge had finished touring as support for Kiss and was winding up his tour with this show. So playing in his home town on New Year's Eve means the crowd would be wound up. Ted delivers with a dozen tracks which is mainly made up of songs from the 75-80 period. I remember in the late 80's sitting in my parent's basement listening to Double live Gonzos on vinyl (yes, vinyl) and just being amazed by the Nuge's ability to just whip riffs out and it all just sounded so effortless. The reason I decided to review this album rather than Double live gonzos is because I wanted to see if there were any good live albums that have come out in recent years. I also wanted to see if an artist who made a live album over 20 years ago can still deliver a good live album. The answer is yes, he can and he does. The album kicks off with an instrumental called "Klstrphk" which is a really mean rocker that runs just under four minutes before going straight into Paralyzed and even though this song was over 20 years old at this time, it still sounds fresh. From there it really just flows from one track to the next. To me there were no real dull moments and several tracks do sound different from some previous live versions. Ted talks about the upcoming New Year and drops the F bomb more times than I remember. Yet the most important thing is that he still sounds like he still has some firepower behind him. He certainly is not some stale old relic up there going through the motions just for the sake of adding money to his retirement fund (you can fill in the blank as to who I may be referring to). The sound quality is extremely sharp and according to the back of the case, it says that is 100% live with no overdubs. Is that true? I would guess yes because I don't think that Ted would put that on there if it wasn't true because at this point in his career, he doesn't have to prove anything. If it's not true then it's still a great album and someone did a fine job of making it sound terrific. My favorite tracks include Great White Buffalo, Stranglehold, Free for all and Cat scratch fever.

Monday, July 17, 2006

1980's week coming next month

In talking about possible theme weeks the other day, I have decided to do a 1980's week probably next month. You may be saying "Uh, don't you do that almost every week?". True enough, my original focus for this blog was 80's metal and I still focus a few features on the year that was 20 years ago. Yet I have reviewed numerous 70's albums, a few 90's albums and a number from this decade. I will do one week where I will do three reviews of 80's metal albums and other topics concentrating on metal from that decade. Although I may throw in one non-metal topic and talk briefly other entertainment from the 80's like tv, movies, video games and such. That last one will probably be done one post with a couple of top five lists on it. So in a few weeks you can get your parachute pants, checkered vans and tight, black concert t-shirt out of mothballs for the occasion.

What makes a live album good or bad?

Before I go off into reviews, I thought it wise to try and establish what makes a live album good or bad. Now with live album week I will mainly just be focusing on official live albums rather than bootlegs. My thoughts are that a good live album should.......

-Have a good sound quality of course, no fuzzy or muddy sounding recording.
-The band should sound excited.
-Have the band's big songs.
-Have some dialog with the audience. These band's have personalities or they should so let's hear what they say to their fans.
-The hope is that there is some variance between at least some of the live versions and the studio versions. Not every one will agree with this, but I like it when a band speeds up a song a little live or takes a chance with a song or two. Maybe they make the song longer by adding some solos or different parts in.
-Depending on the band, you may want some solos thrown in.

-If it's not the band's first live album then you want some different tracks from the first live album.

There are probably others so feel free to add your own. As for a bad live album, I guess it could be described as anything does the opposite of the above. A few other things a bad album might do is ......
-Be boring or not even as good as the studio versions of songs.
-Sound fake or obviously not live.

I think too often live albums are used as contract obligations. Meaning a band owes the label another album and they don't want to go into the studio right then so the label plops together some piece of pulp and the band doesn't have input or doesn't care. Have some pride in your work. Led Zeppelin didn't want their performance from Live Aid released because they didn't think they performed that well. I can respect that, I can't respect band's who let subpar recordings come out although sometimes I know it's the label's decision rather than the band. I'll step down off the soapbox now and let someone else have a chance.

So what do you think makes a live album good or bad?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's coming up?

As I already mentioned this week will be "Live album week". So I will have reviews on the following:

-Iron Maiden:Live after death
-Rush:Exit stage left
-Ted Nugent:Full bluntal Nugity

Plus these topics:
-What makes a live album good or bad?
-Who should have done a live album?
And maybe one other topic.

So to kick things off, what is your favorite live hard rock or metal album?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Underrated hard rock/metal guitarists

I won't call this a "top ten underrated guitarists" because I know I have probably forgotten someone and I didn't rank them, I just listed ten that I consider to be underrated. Guys like Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page get a lot of credit. I think that eventually guys like Iommi, Blackmore and Iron Maiden's fantastic duo of Smith and Murray have also gotten their due. Yet what about the guys who have been tearing it up and never gotten their fair credit? Well here are some that I think are underrated.

Andy LaRocque(King Diamond)-Kind of like Yngwie Malmsteen only with more flare and less self indulgent.

Michael Schenker(UFO,Scorpions, MSG)- Stunning guitar parts and always seemed to be progressing as a player.

John Sykes(Tygers of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy,Whitesnake and Blue Murder)-
Severely overlooked at times, but he was a great hard rock guitarist who could shred, but knew how to make it catchy. Also he could play some original tones as well.

Kai Hansen(Helloween, Gamma Ray)-How much does the genre of power metal owe to this guy? He founded perhaps the two most influential bands of the genre and always seemed to be moving forward with his playing.

Vito Bratta (White Lion)-Obviously influenced by Eddie Van Halen, but he grew as a player as was really coming into his own on the last White Lion album.

Tony Bourge(Budgie)-He was playing some heavy, unique riffs at the same time as Iommi and Blackmore, but got overlooked. Budgie was not the same after he left.

Ronnie LeTekro(TNT)-Sometimes passed off just another flashy player with little soul. I disagree, he could play the virtuoso role, but could really tie in with some solid chops and make it interesting as well.

Wolf Hoffman (Accept) -A real team player laying down some solid heavy riffs for his band. Far better and far more versatile then he got credit for.

Phil Campbell (Motorhead)-Still seems like the new guy in Motorhead, but he has been with them for 22 years now. Always seems to be trying to improve, never one to rest on what he did in the past.

Fast Eddie Clark (Motorhead,Fastway)-His work with Motorhead was way too brief, but he left his mark. Speed metal would not be the same without this guy. He took what had been done by bands like Sabbath and Priest, but took it a step further.

Friday, July 14, 2006

On the horizon

I knew that next week would be a theme week. I was debating between live album week and another movies week. I have decided to do live album week and I will have more details about that on Sunday. The movies week will probably be in the middle of next month. In the beginning of August I will go on vacation for a few days, but never fear because I have lined up guest bloggers to post while I am away. If you have any suggestions for any other theme weeks then let me know. Other than the ones above, the only other theme week I have in mind right now is that I will do Black Sabbath week in October.

First concert

The other day my daughter the Metalgirl got to go to her first concert. No, it wasn't Iron Maiden or Motorhead, but rather it was Kidsinger Jim. He's a local guy who does concert for kids and he has some CD's out. Hey, she's two, but she did enjoy it. It was at my place of work (the public library). I was working so I had to act as bouncer against the 20 or so kids who were getting to close to the speakers because their parents wouldn't make them mind. I think there were about 100 people total there. Metalgirl sat with her mom for a while, but then she got up and started dancing. I try to play music for her when I can so I am glad she enjoyed the concert and he was good as far as entertainers for kids go. At my job I have seen some who didn't deserve the money they got. Metalboy sat in his mom's lap and grinned the whole time. I am just glad neither of them threw tantrums. Of course Metalgirl didn't enjoy as much as dancing at home to Deep Purple and Judas Priest.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rainbow-Rising, 1976

Before hearing this album I had heard the band's debut, Difficult to cure and Down to earth and all were decent, but nothing spectacular. I first bought this on tape back in 88 or 89 and I was floored by it when I listened to it on my walkman while I was walking the dog one night. It's a bit brief with only six tracks and a running time under 35 minutes, but they pack quite a bit into the short time frame. From the swirling keyboards that open "Tarot Women" through to the frantic pace of the closer "Light in the black", the bands is in high gear. This is my favorite line-up of Rainbow for sure and it sounds like they have been playing together for years instead of it being their first time together. Tony Carey's keyboards took on a life of their own at times, but still managed to compliment the overall sound of the band. The rhythm section of bass player Jimmy Bain and drummer Cozy Powell keep the pace going as well. Ritchie Blackmore sounded more alive than he had about three or four years. Some of his solos on this album were just flying off his fingers. For Ronnie James Dio this is certainly one of the best performances of his long career. It still sounds as good to me as it did the first time I listened to it. The band sounded very alive and fresh and it truly makes me regret the more pop direction that Blackmore took the band just a few short years after this release. Still the band made two great releases with this album and the follow-up "Long live rock and roll". My favorite tracks are quite honestly all of them except for "Do you close your eyes" which is just decent. The Ken Kelly artwork on the cover is fantastic as well.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Have you ever.....

I have not done an afternoon post in a while, but here is one.
Three simple questions that may or may not apply to you.

1)Have you ever stopped listening to a band based on something they did other than a bad album? Who and why?
2)Have you ever thrown out a cd or given it away because it was so bad? What was it?
3)Have you ever been unable to finish listening to an album you bought because it was so bad? What was it?


At some point I hope to write something like a monthly heavy metal memories thing here at my blog. You might think most of what I write is like that, but I hope to focus on events that happened to me. Not that I lead an exciting life because I certainly didn't. The reason is more that I want try to relate what it was like growing up as a metal fan and also to record my memories and try to think more about how they shaped me as a music fan and maybe even as a person. I want to do one each month and maybe I will start doing it during the last week of the month.

The band I underrated

I think that I wrote a while ago about bands that I underrated, but I just wanted to mention a band that I really misjudged for years. I had a friend in high school that really liked Accept and borrowed his tapes and listened to them and thought they were alright, but never bought any of their stuff then. I did pick up a few of their albums cheap in the early 90's when a record store was going out of business, but didn't listen to them too much. Like maybe two years ago I picked up "Balls to the wall" cheap and decided to give them another chance. It was really way better than I remember it. Yes, the lyrics were odd, but the music was really solid and I like Udo's voice no matter what every else may think. Then I got "Metal Heart" too long ago and it was even better. "Metal Heart" was really well written and it plays to the band's strengths. I would be willing to bet that I have listened to this album more than any other album in the last six months. They have parts that sound like AC/DC and Judas Priest, but they developed their own sound as well. I also just got a double CD that has "Breaker" and "I'm a rebel" and I enjoyed both of them as well. Now I am looking forward to rediscovering some of their other albums.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Upcoming albums and predictions.

We are now in the second half of 2006 and there are a few big name bands set to release new albums very soon and a few others set to release albums in the near future. Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Slayer all have releases due out soon. Frankly I am looking forward to all three. I think Motorhead have been pretty hot over the last few releases and I am sure the new album will be good just because of how consistent the band normally is. I am also looking forward to Iron Maiden's new one. I liked the last two releases as they were far better than anything the band churned out in the 90's yet they were just good rather than great. Which means to me that 1988 was probably the last year they did a great album and that was Seventh son of a seventh son. Even though Maiden are legends and I am sure they are still great live, I wonder if they have another great album left in them. Then there is Slayer who may be getting the most hype of the three bands I mentioned. This is partially due to the return of drummer Dave Lombardo and partly due to the controversy that their album title and cover are stirring up. I have to ask the same question about them as I did about Maiden, do they have another great album left in the tank? As with Maiden, I think Slayer's last great album came out in 1988 and that was South of Heaven.
Then you have Metallica whose album may not be out until early next year, but we are already hearing about it. To me their last great album was Master of Puppets in 1986, that's a long time. Megadeth are also supposed to have a new album out at some point. With them I would say the last great album was Rust in peace from 1990.
So which one of these upcoming new albums will be the best? If there is a release that I didn't mention that you think will great then what is it?

Monday, July 10, 2006

Top ten bass players

Probably the least glamorous of the three instruments normally used in metal, but it can be a very interesting tool in the right hands. The main job of a bass player is lay down the rhythm along with the drummer. Then there also players that go beyond that either due to using different tones, offbeat parts, speed or a combination of all of those. Some bass players can't even do the minimum and Bobby Dall comes to mind for this category. Some players do the job, but are quite average and Nikki Sixx and Ian Hill come to mind for this category. Some players do the job very well, but they don't stand a lot and I think Roger Glover and Jimmy Bain fall in this category. Then you get someone like Billy Sheehan who can wail on solos at times yet in a band setting like with David Lee Roth and Mr. Big he didn't stand out that often to me. So the guys that made my list were solid players first, but had some quality that made them stand out. Here they are as I count down my top ten bass players.

10-Duff McKagan-(G-n-R, Velvet Revolver)
A good solid player with some different sounds who gets overlooked to some extent.
9-D.D. Verni (Overkill)-I love that the tone of his bass lines. A real backbone to his band's sound.
8-Dave Ellefson(Megadeth)-Some of his bass lines sound easy until you try and play them.
7-Cliff Burton (Metallica)-Great tone to his parts and he was pretty fast as well.
6-Jason Newsted (Flotsam and Jetsam,Metallica, Voivod)-This is the one choice I will probably get some flack for. I didn't pick him for his work with Metallica or Voivod, but rather for his playing on Flotsam and Jetsam's debut Doomsday for the deceiver. Just some amazing playing there and he wrote a good chunk of the album.
5-Burke Shelley (Budgie)- Solid player who was also the lead singer. They played some offbeat stuff as well and he was always right in the thick of it.
4-John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)-Maybe the most versatile player on this list. He could play some really interesting parts.
3-Geddy Lee (Rush)- Rush went through many different sounds and his playing always sounded good no matter what the style. He also kept up with Neil Peart which is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.
2-Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath)- He brought the heavy to heavy metal bass playing. He could play some complicated parts as well as any other player going.
1-Steve Harris (Iron Maiden)-Just an extraordinary player who possesses speed and a great mind for sounds. He has his influences, but he revolutionized metal bass playing and yet 25 years later he is still at the top.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cinderella-Night Songs, 1986

The family outing at the zoo on Saturday went great and I had time to finish this review as well.

Background-By the mid-1980's it was starting to look like the commercial hard rock scene would be dominated by bands from the massive LA scene. Bon Jovi may have been one of the few east coast bands to hit big during this time period, but they wouldn't be huge until late 1986. Here came this band Cinderella that had the look of an LA band yet they were from Philadelphia. Even though they looked like an LA band they didn't exactly sound like one. This album did well and helped the band get it's foot in the door.

First Impression-I first heard Cinderella's debut back when it came out in 1986. I actually heard the whole thing not too long ago. I think it's decent, but not great. So let's slap it on and see what's there.

1.Night Songs-The opening track comes in with a brief intro and we have a medium slow beat and the music has a nice hesitation to it that catches your attention. Tom Keifer distinctly rough vocals come on. The song doesn't vary in pace much at all and all although good enough it was say it's slightly too long.

2. Shake Me-A basic drum beat starts this song off. The chorus is catchy and it's very sharp overall. It's not spectacular, but certainly tight and I know that I will remember this one when the disc is over.

3. Nobody's Fool-The slow beginning comes on and you know pretty much know what kind of song this is. It's slow through and through yet it's not sappy which helps. The band seems very in control and uses the song for all that it's worth.

4. Nothin' For Nothin'-There is a nice squealing riff at the beginning and the song moves alone pretty well. They sound excited and it really feels like there is some force behind this one.

5. Once Around The Ride-A real throw away track with the guitar rhythm sounding like second rate Motley Crue and the band just sounding tired. I actually had to go back and listen to this one a second time because I couldn't remember it after the first listen.

6. Hell On Wheels-Nice solid heavy riff with a solid pace going behind it. Tom Keifer sings like it like he means it. Even though the lyrics are cliche and the same old cheese it sounds good with his vocals.

7. Somebody Save Me-This is a medium slow song. I like it because of the vocals, but it would have been better with some more pace changes tossed it.

8. In From The Outside-I think this track begins maybe the strongest part of the album. A decent song and it rocks more than most of the previous tracks. Some nice riffs and finally music is brought a little more to the forefront.

9. Push, Push- This song brings about an aggressive side to the band that I wish had a showed up earlier and more often because they handle it well. Just like the previous track it's a solid rocker.

10. Back Home Again- The final track has a good chugging riff and solid beat behind it. I would say it was strong enough overall. However the fact that it was under four minutes and still seemed a little long indicates they maybe should have changed things up a bit at some point to make it a little more interesting.

Verdict-I would say the album is still decent overall, but I think the vocals are better than I remember. Tom Keifer can sing but he has a good solid roughness to his voice and it's good to have a few singers like that as opposed to everyone being so polished. By 1986 a lot of hard rock bands were forgetting about the rock part of their music. I think a number of bands between say 85-90 wanted hits and they concentrated on the vocals and a catchy chorus but they forgot about playing rock music. I think Cinderella didn't fall completely into that trap. Then again Cinderella were going to get better, way better actually. Over the next two album Long cold winter and Heartbreak Station, this band would discover their niche. They became blues rock band with hard rock undertones and they grew as songwriters. I think these guys are one of a few hard rocks bands from the late 80's/early 90's that can actually claim they wrote some great songs and executed them perfectly as well. The only other thing I have to say about Night Songs concerns the cover. It looks like the band went to Don Dokken's yard sale then they raided Steven Tyler's closet and then just mixed and matched from both sets of clothes. That's a minor issue though so it's pretty good album overall and I will be listening to it more often.

***Next month's 20 year old album review will be Motorhead's Orgasmatron.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

What's coming up?

Well, first off I still owe my review for Cinderella's Night Songs and it's about half finished that means it will be out tomorrow. Today I am going here with the family. We took Metalgirl there two years ago when she was just a few months old, but now she will really appreciate it.

This week I also hope to have out the following:
-Rainbow-Rising review
-My favorite bass players list
-The metal band I severely underrated
-Predictions for upcoming albums
and maybe another topic or two.

If you had to see one of these tours this summer then which one would it be? Why?
Def Leppard/Journey
Ratt/ Vince Neil
LA Guns reunion

Friday, July 07, 2006

Music in your dreams

One of my favorite music stories is one about a dream that Stevie Ray Vaughan had. Apparently he woke up one morning in a bad mood and his then wife asked him why he was in a bad mood. He said that he had a dream that Jimi Hendrix had come to him and taught him these secret chord changes, but Stevie was mad because when he woke up he couldn't remember them. I once had a dream that King Diamond came to me and wanted me to play in his band for a show he was playing at my high school. I woke up right after that so the dream didn't get to go any farther. Then another time I had a dream that I wrote a song and Kevin Dubrow liked it and wanted to buy it from me. That was a scary dream to think that I might have been responsible for something that ended up on a Quiet Riot album. Have you had a dream with a musician in it?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Concert shirts

I used to have a bunch of concert and band shirts when I was in high school, but I got rid of most of those over the years due to outgrowing them or just needing the space. I have aquired some new ones in recent years and wear them all the time, well not at work, but I do wear them at home. My brother was up for a visit recently and he looked at the Lizzy Borden shirt I was wearing and said "I thought you grew out of that stuff" and I responded "Why would I want to do that?". Anyway the favorite band shirt that I currently own is a Van Halen shirt I bought in the mid 90's. It has the logo from the first album on the front and Eddie's white guitar on the back. Probably the oldest shirt I have is a Metallica shirt from 1988. Do you or did you have a band or concert that you liked above all of the rest?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Heavy Metal hasbeen summer report

Apparently Metal Sludge is reporting that the other day Vince Neil came out drunk for his show in Tampa and once again made an ass of himself. If the attendance numbers at that concert are any indication then the Ratt/Vince Neil tour isn't exactly getting swarms of people as they got about 600 at an arena that holds 15,000. I saw that LA Guns are playing near where I live this weekend, but the flyer said "With all original members". When I went to the link on their website it made no mention of this and still showed the same line-up as last year with Phil Lewis and Steve Riley being the only original members.
I just read that Stephen Pearcy and former Ratt bass player Juan Croucier will be touring together this summer. Apparently each will play a set with their own bands and then play a third set together of Ratt songs. I really doubt this will bring in many people except in LA and even then it won't be many.

***Just a reminder that if you missed my Sunday topic then scroll down to "Vote for a review" and cast your vote for one of the three choices. The one with the most votes by the end of Saturday is the one that I will review in September.***

Led Zeppelin 3, 1970

I knew that eventually I would get around to reviewing a Zeppelin album. So why then did I pick an album that has never exactly been one of my favorites of theirs? Well, the first reason is that I have not heard the whole thing in a long time and it was high time that I gave it another chance. The other reason is that I finally got around to getting it on CD. The reason this album was not one of my favorites was because I tend to prefer the band's more hard rock songs and this album has mainly slower songs. Yet in listening to the album this time around I can tell the band approached the album the same way as any other album done between the debut and Physical Graffitti. That is that it is well written, expertly played and done with a lot of emotion and feeling. The music is a different style, but the results are the same which means it's excellent. In looking at Zeppelin's overall career I would say this is a testament to their skill that this album was so good. Their second album is great and then they turn around and do an album that is almost as good, but a completely different style. How many rock bands can pull that off? Not too many that's for sure. You have to have the skill, be diverse as players and writers and be excited about what you are doing. If you lack any of those elements then the results will be either a lame album or an album that sounds very forced. I don't think Zeppelin faltered at all until "Presence" and "In through the out door" when fatigue and other problems caught up with them. Anyway , 3 is an important and spectacular chapter in Zeppelin's incredible career. It's an album that's both beautiful and stunning without being overdone. My favorite tracks are Immigrant Song, Out on the tiles, Gallow's Pole and Tangerine.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July

Growing up the only holidays my parents really celebrated were Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving. We didn't even celebrate Halloween that much although that holiday is far and away my favorite now. We did virtually nothing for the Fourth of July. I actually never saw fireworks until I was 16. The big thing in my county for the holiday is that they have fireworks at the Farm Museum which is in the biggest town in the county. That actually have events going on all day a lot of people go there and have picnics and stuff during the day and wait around for the fireworks. In 1986 my friend ray asked me to go to the Farm Museum with him and his parents. I went and it was pretty cool, we played tapes of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Judas Priest and AC/DC on his little boombox during the day and then got to see the fireworks at night. I don't think that I have gone to see fireworks in like ten years now. I just dread the wait of getting out of there once it's over. Maybe when my kids get old enough that both of them are ready for it then I will take them to it if I can. My parents were great overall growing up, but we didn't do a whole lot for holidays including birthdays and we didn't go out much other than to the stores. I am trying to get past that and go out more and celebrate holidays more because I want things to be a little more special and exciting for my kids. It's still tough to break old habits though. Today we are going to grill out at my parents in the evening. During the day I will probably take Metalgirl outside and let her get in her little plastic pool and I hope to weed the garden some as well. I am actually glad to have a day off.

Have a happy Fourth of July!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Album name changes

Sometimes a band knows well in advance what the name of their upcoming album will be and sometimes they don't know until late in the game. Then you also have occasions where a band seems set on a title and they announce it in interviews, but then they change it late in the game. Here are some examples.

Ozzy Osbourne-Ozzy's fourth solo studio album was originally due out in the fall of 1985 and it was to be called "Killer of giants". However it got delayed until early 1986 and the name was changed to "the Ultimate Sin".

Ted Nugent-The Nuge's 1986 release was originally going to be called "Choose your weapon", but it eventually was changed and released as "Little Miss Dangerous".

Lita Ford-Lita's third album was originally going to be called "The Bride wore black" and was originally slated to be released in 1986. The stories vary a little on this one. The most popular story goes like this. Apparently she did record this album, but her label Mercury records didn't like it so she asked to be released and she was. She hired Sharon Osbourne as her manager and she signed to RCA records. Then her third album finally came out in early 1988 as "Lita".

Grim Reaper-This band's third album was scheduled to come out as early as late 1986 and be called "Night of the vampire". However it was delayed and eventually came out in the summer of 1987 and it was called "Rock you to hell".

It was even rumored that Queensryche considered calling their most recent album "We need the money really bad", but instead they opted for the only slightly more subtle "Operation Mindcrime 2". Actually I made this one up, but the others are true.

Do you know of any albums that went through title changes before being released?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vote for a review

You get to vote for which of the three choices I will do for my 20 year old album review for the month of September. Early in the year I did one with a glam theme and Poison won the vote. Then in the spring I did one with a speed metal theme and Metal Church won. This time the theme is solo artists so here are your choices.

Alice Cooper-Constrictor
David Lee Roth-Eat 'em and smile
Yngwie Malmsteen-Trilogy

Just put in the comments which one you would like me to review. The voting will run until the end of this week. In the event of a tie I will determine some type of tiebreaker. Thanks for your vote.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

What's coming up?

It's the first week of the month which means that it is time for my monthly 20 year old album review and this month it is Cinderella's Night Songs. I also hope to have these topics up this week.

-Something relating to the Fourth of July
-Vote for a review
-Concert shirts
-Led Zeppelin 3 review

I might do another topic or two as well.

Here is a question, what are some of the best debut lp's done in the 1980's?
Guns and Roses' Appetite for destruction, Iron Maiden's self titled debut and Dio's Holy Diver all come to my mind right away. How about you?